The use of face masks has arguably been a helpful measure in slowing down the coronavirus spread in the united states. Although additional precautions, like regularly washing hands with soap and water and maintaining social distancing are key tactics in the current pandemic war, face masks further intensify protection. This indispensable piece of personal protective equipment is commonly found in the medical scene. However, since the World Health Organization and the U.S. Communities for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally approved the use of face masks for battling the spread of the infection, it became necessary for every tom dick and harry.

disposable mask

Types of Available Masks

The three types of masks available in the market are:

  • Home-made Mask: Also known as cloth mask, and usually made out of various fabrics like cotton. This is the least significant type, as it is not very effective in shielding the wearer against contaminated particles. However, if a wearer has the virus, it can help minimize the spread to others. It is also non-disposable; if washed and dried thoroughly, it can be used repeatedly.
  • Medical disposable Mask: `has a bacterial filtration efficiency of about 95%, therefore offers more effective protection against infection.
  • Surgical Mask: It also possesses a bacterial filtration efficiency of 95% and prevents the wearer from inhaling contaminated particles.

If both the disposable and surgical Mask offer the same protective efficiency against contaminants, what is their significant difference?


First, let’s analyze the obvious similarity. Bear in mind that both masks are disposable - the surgical Mask is just a different type of disposable medical Mask. From the physical appearance of both, it might be difficult to tell them apart at first sight. They are both crafted with the same three-layer structure, namely:

  • Outer Layer: blocks large-sized droplets and is made up of non-woven fabric.
  • Middle Layer: this is where tiny droplets are captured by an electrostatic effect, due to the melt-blown material used.
  • Inner Layer: absorbs breathed vapor without affecting the filtration of the middle Layer.

disposable mask

Major Difference

What distinguishes an ordinary disposable medical mask from a surgical mask is the fluid resistance. A surgical mask is designed to block the penetration of bodily fluids like blood. When engaging in operation, certain procedures may result in an accidental splash of blood from the patient onto the doctor's Mask. An ordinary disposable mask will get soiled in such a scenario and result in a transfer of infection from patient to doctor. A surgical mask can protect the doctor in the event of a splash.

The NIOSH clears both masks for their superb filtration efficiency. Nevertheless, before a surgical mask is incorporated medically, it must be cleared by the FDA after it must have passed the US Standard test for surgical masks (ASTM F2100-11).

The disposable Mask has a particle filtration efficiency ideal for civilians, and it is available for purchase online. The home-made Mask is also not a bad choice if you cannot buy the disposable medical one. However, for healthcare workers, the best option is the medical-surgical Mask.